In the eyes of the law, helping another person to commit a crime can be just as serious as committing the crime yourself. If you act as another individual’s criminal “accomplice,” or a person who aids with a criminal offense, you could be facing prosecution, jail or prison time, high fines, probation, loss of your driver’s license, community service, and other consequences for your alleged role in the offense. Get serious about your defense by consulting an experienced criminal attorney in Atlantic City, like the accomplice defense lawyers at the Law Offices of John J. Zarych.
Our legal team possesses decades of combined experience representing adults and juveniles in all types of criminal cases throughout the Atlantic City region. Whether you have been charged with a disorderly persons offense, which is similar to a misdemeanor, or an indictable crime, which is equivalent to a felony, count on our team to execute a tactical defense strategy. To set up a free legal consultation with a defense lawyer for accomplice charges in Atlantic City, contact the Law Offices of John J. Zarych online, or call today at (609) 616-4956.
Who is Considered an Accomplice to a Crime?
N.J.S.A. § 2C:2-6 is the New Jersey statute which addresses “liability for [the] conduct of another,” including criminal conduct. An individual can be held accountable for another person’s actions if, as provided by N.J.S.A. § 2C:2-6(b)(3), “He [or she] is an accomplice of such other person in the commission of an offense,” such as burglary or kidnapping. In other words, a person is considered responsible for another individual’s actions if he or she acts as an accomplice to a crime. But what, exactly, is an accomplice in New Jersey?
Put simply, an “accomplice” is an individual who asks or helps another person to commit a criminal offense. Of course, the full legal definition is more complex, and the ability to convict you depends on the prosecution’s ability to prove that your conduct met certain standards.
According to New Jersey jury instructions, an “accomplice” is defined as a person who, “with the purpose of promoting or facilitating the commission of the offense… (a) solicits such other person to commit it and/or (b) aids or agrees or attempts to aid such other person in planning or committing it.” In other words, an accomplice is an individual who:
- Asks another person to commit a crime
- Helps commit and/or plan the crime
To reiterate, the prosecution must show that you acted “with the purpose of promoting or facilitating” the crime. Depending on the circumstances of the case, it may be a valid legal defense that you changed your mind and decided not to participate in the crime, which is known as “termination.” However, in order to utilize this defense strategy successfully, you must show that you abandoned the criminal scheme both totally and voluntarily.
What Are the Penalties for Being a Criminal Accomplice?
An accomplice may be found to have equal guilt to, or lesser guilt than, the defendant in a criminal case depending on the nature and extent of his or her role in the alleged crime. Depending on these and other factors, different accomplice offenses can result in different criminal penalties. For example, there will be greater penalties for significant participation in a second degree crime than for minor participation in a third degree crime.
In New Jersey, criminal offenses are known as “disorderly persons offenses” (equivalent to misdemeanors) or “indictable crimes” (equivalent to felonies). Minor disorderly persons offenses are called “petty” disorderly persons offenses. Maximum criminal penalties for these offenses are as follows, except in cases where statutes call for specific penalty enhancements:
- Petty Disorderly Persons Offenses (Misdemeanors)
- Sentence – Up to 30 days in jail
- Fine – Up to $500
- Disorderly Persons Offenses (Misdemeanors)
- Sentence – Up to six months in jail
- Fine – Up to $1,000
- Fourth Degree Crimes (Fourth Degree Felonies)
- Sentence – Up to 18 months in prison
- Fine – Up to $10,000
- Third Degree Crimes (Third Degree Felonies)
- Sentence – Up to five years in prison
- Fine – Up to $15,000
- Second Degree Crimes (Second Degree Felonies)
- Sentence – Up to 10 years in prison
- Fine – Up to $150,000
- First Degree Crimes (First Degree Felonies)
- Sentence – Up to life in prison, depending on the offense
- Fine – Up to $200,000
Atlantic City Criminal Defense Lawyers for Accomplice Charges in NJ
At the Law Offices of John J. Zarych, we understand how stressful and overwhelming it feels to be charged with a serious crime, or to watch your spouse or child undergoing a criminal investigation. We will work tirelessly to protect your rights, fight against criminal penalties, guide you through the justice system, prepare you for hearings and court appearances, obtain and analyze evidence, and minimize the anxiety that a criminal investigation can cause. We pride ourselves on delivering the level of high-quality, high-caliber legal representation that has earned us a reputation for excellence.
We are here to help if you or a family member was accused of acting as a criminal accomplice in New Jersey. Contact our law offices online today to schedule a free consultation, or call the Law Offices of John J. Zarych at (609) 616-4956 to speak with an attorney.